Saturday, January 14, 2012

Richmond, NSU, Liberty, Radford, Hampton and Longwood in action today

Several streaks will be on the line today. Some (Liberty, Hampton, Richmond) we'd love to see continue), while one (Norfolk State) we really hope we see the last of.

Saturday's games:

Norfolk State (7-8, 2-2 MEAC) at Morgan State (3-12, 0-2), 2 p.m.
Streak watch: Norfolk State has lost 40 straight MEAC regular-season road games.
NSU's streak of conference road futility dates back to Jan. 3, 2007, when the Spartans spanked Maryland-Eastern Shore 69-59 in Princess Anne, Md. The Spartans went on to lose their final 8 MEAC road games that season (the league played 18 conference games that year) and have gone 0-8 in league away games in the four seasons since. To be fair, none of the current Spartans were around for a lot of these losses, and the 2011-12 Spartans team hasn't lost any conference road games since this is the first one of the season. But clearly, if the Spartans plan on being any kind of factor in the conference race, they'll need to start getting things done away from Echols Arena.

Liberty (7-7, 2-1 Big South) at Coastal Carolina (9-4, 2-1), 2 p.m.
Streak watch: The Lady Flames have won 36 straight in this series.
Coastal Carolina's last victory over Liberty came during Bill Clinton's first term as president - Feb. 19, 1996 - but the Chanticleers came close twice last season and are 8-0 at home this season. Both teams have first-rate defenses so we're expecting a game in the 50s. Close games make us nervous with Liberty because of the Lady Flames' turnover issues and poor free-throw shooting, so here's hoping the Lady Flames can get some separation before the contest gets to its final two minutes. By the way, Old Dominion owns two of the top three active winning streaks against a single opponent. The Lady Monarchs have beaten William and Mary 52 straight times, which is tied with Stanford's streak against Washington State for the longest currently running. ODU also has 42 straight wins over UNC Wilmington, the third-longest active streak.

Richmond (13-3, 1-1) at UMass (6-11, 1-1), 1:30 p.m.
Streak watch: The Spiders have won 6 straight in the series.
On Jan. 19, 2006, during Michael Shafer's first season as Richmond's coach, UMass upended the Spiders 81-67. Apparently that loss ticked Shafer off so much his Spiders haven't lost to the Minutewomen since. Last season's victory was the most emphatic, as the Spiders scored the first 13 points and cruised to an 89-63 result. Richmond also took care of business in style in its most recent contest, as Rachel and Sam Bilney combined to hit 9 3-pointers (8 by Rachel, 1 by Sam) Wednesday as the Spiders avoided any Temple hangover and rocked George Washington 74-57. The Spiders are 6-1 in road/neutral site games this season and if they're anywhere near their usual form they should continue their mastery of the Minutewomen today.

Hampton (11-3, 3-0 MEAC) at Coppin State (7-9, 2-1), 2 p.m.
Streak watch: Hampton has won 16 straight versus MEAC opponents
The Lady Pirates haven't played since last Saturday's dominating 63-40 victory over a talented Howard team that had won 9 straight going in. Lady Pirates forward Alyssa Bennett had 23 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks in that contest and was named MEAC Player of the Week. Hampton's closest margin of victory in its three MEAC games has been 19 points, and while this is the Lady Pirates' first conference road game, Coppin State figures to be hard-pressed to score enough to keep this one much closer.

NJIT (6-10) at Longwood (3-16), 2 p.m.
The Lancers are coming off a pair of encouraging road outings - last Saturday's 59-48 win over Air Force for their first road victory of the year, and Tuesday's 64-59 near-miss at Utah Valley. Longwood is 2-2 in home games this season, while NJIT had dropped five straight before Wednesday's 52-48 win at Penn.

Huge game for the Highlanders, who have already dropped two conference home games and can ill-afford to cede more ground in the Big South race. The Buccaneers rank third in Division I in 3-pointer made per game (9.4) and the Highlanders are 270th in 3-point defense and frankly have struggled to shut down opponents anywhere on the court of late. Radford won 81-78 in overtime the last time these teams met in Charleston; all signs point to another high-scoring affair today.

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